Books on Working with Others
When Everyone's a Volunteer:
The Effective Functioning of All-Volunteer Groups
Ivan Sheier, Energize Inc, Philadelphia, PA, 1992.
ere is a booklet for those who have become queasy
riding the roller-coaster of an all-volunteer group. It is written by an
expert on building organizations with volunteer support. Sheier covers
goal setting, distributing work, getting members, working with no money,
and co-operating with others. He also details a collection of group exercises,
and networking schemes.
Dry Bones Rattling:
Community building to revitalize American democracy
Mark Warren, Princeton University Press, Princeton, 2001.
he best book about the Industrial Areas Foundation and its methods. Known for community organizing in cooperation with churches, the IAF has developed sophisticated techniques for identifying, training and developing large numbers of community leaders. This site has a pdf summary of IAF practices
Getting to Yes: Negotiating Agreement Without Giving In
Roger Fisher & William Ury, Penguin, 1983.
isher and Ury's best-seller on conflict resolution has been translated into eighteen languages. The authors show how conflict can be quite healthy if you can separate the people from the problem, and focus on interests rather than on positions. When unexpressed interests are identified, the parties involved can usually create options that will benefit everyone. If you live in British Columbia, the Justice Institute runs a highly-rated 3 day course based on Getting to Yes
They offer the course, "Dealing with Interpersonal Conflict",
several times per month. For more information call the Justice Institute
Women's Self Help Network, 1990.
ix British Columbia womens' collectives contributed material to this condensed spiral-bound booklet on performing daily work in an atmosphere of democracy and co-operation. In simple language, it covers decision-making and overcoming common problems, and provides seventeen tools for ensuring a happy productive group. Email North Island Women's Services Society.
Cost is around $10 Canadian.
Utne Reader; 1624 Harmon Place, Minneapolis, Minnesota, 55403.
Utne Reader magazine runs many articles on cities and community building. In March 1991, it was "Salons, How
to Revive the Endangered Art of Conversation and Start a Revolution in
Your Living Room". That story blossomed into a book and a national "Neighbourhood
Salons" program, with an unofficial motto from Margaret Mead: "Never
doubt that a small group of thoughtful committed citizens can change the
world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has." Utne Reader is available on most newsstands.
The Different Drum
M.Scott Peck, Simon & Schuster, NY, 1987.
eck provides an explanation of the nature of real
community and how it is created. He draws on his own youthful encounters
with community, and subsequent experience running workshops for the non-profit
Institute for Community Encouragement. The workshops aim at creating a
deep level of connectedness between participants without any prior connection.
Peck argues any group can form itself into a community if it goes through
three stages. In two day workshops, Institute trainers take groups through
these stages. In the first stage, Pseudocommunity, everyone tries to be
extremely pleasant and avoid disagreement. In the second stage, Chaos,
people argue and struggle in various ways to heal or convert one another.
In the third stage, Emptiness, people stop acting like they had it all
together and begin to share their own defeats, failures, sins and inadequacies.
According to Peck, if a group can move through Emptiness, it can achieve
community. Community is characterized by realism, humility, self-awareness,
and the inclusiveness of people who are different. Once a group achieves
community the most frequent comment is, "I feel safe here". Peck
notes that the usual way out of Chaos is organization. He argues that excessive
organization and strong leaders are a threat to community. In a real community,
everyone is a leader.
The second half of the book applies community building to enhancing the
international peace movement. Peck, a psychiatrist, overlays The
with a New Age therapy-is-healthy outlook that may
put off some readers. Anyone so inclined should at least consider chapter
five, "Stages of Community-Making" and chapter six, "Further
Dynamics of Community".
Building Communities from the Inside Out
John Kretzmann & John McKnight, Centre for Urban Affairs and Policy
Northwestern University, Evaston, Illinois, 1993.
he authors argue we can bring communities back to life if we focus on local assets rather than on local needs. By beginning every community development process with a needs assessment, we unwittingly make people needy and dependent. Kretzmann and McKnight say we have to stop seeing the glass as half empty and begin to see it as half full. We need to identify, then build on, strengths latent in the community.
Originally written for U.S. cities suffering from economic decline, most
of the book easily applies to less troubled Canadian communities. The first
part covers explicit techniques for identifying a community's resources:
local individuals, institutions, and associations. This process usually
turns up far more active groups and individuals in an area than anyone
ever imagined. In one 24 block neighbourhood in Chicago housing 85,000
people, researchers found 230 associations of various kinds - artistic,
business, charitable, church, collectors, elderly, ethnic, health, interest,
mens, self-help, neighbourhood, outdoors, political, school, service, social
cause, sports, study, veterans, women, and youth. Most of the book consists
of hundreds of one-sentence examples of what happens when these and other
fragments of community begin working in partnership with one another. Each
story has a contact name and phone number, to help the reader move from
reading to acting. The stories show how local seniors, disabled persons,
welfare recipients, and local artists can work with institutions, the private
sector and associations. They also show how institutions such as schools,
parks, libraries, community colleges, police, and hospitals can work in
partnership with one another.
McKnight's work is probably the most sophisticated community development
material around. Thankfully it is amongst the most down-to-earth. For a
copy of Building Communities form the Inside Out
Center for Urban Affairs at 708-491-3518.
The Citizen's Library / Part 3-4
The Citizen's Handbook / Charles Dobson / www.vcn.bc.ca/citizens-handbook